Stuck in your waterfront home in South Florida during quarantine? Whether you usually fish offshore, or you’ve never fished before, snook fishing from the dock is the perfect antidote for a bored family! If you’re stuck at the dock, here is a step by step guide to fishing for snook before season ends on May 31st!
Step 1: Buy a fishing license WITH a snook permit.
Snook is a highly regulated species due to its delicious white flesh and previous overfishing. It used to be on every menu in South Florida, and they don’t multiply as fast as pelagic species like mahi-mahi. If you get caught fishing without a permit, you’re in big trouble! You can purchase your permit from FWC here: https://gooutdoorsflorida.com/. The best deal is the “Saltwater Angler” permit, which includes the snook and lobster permit for $37 plus taxes and fees. Every person who's fishing MUST have a permit, so don't forget to buy them for the rest of your family as well. Purchase yours now to be part of the Florida cool kids club!
Step 2: KNOW the regulations.
Atlantic regulations dictate that snook season is closed December 15th-January 31st and June 1st through August 31st. You’ll hear people call a proper sized snook a “slot” or “slot snook”. This is because snook are only allowed to be kept during season if they fit into a specific “slot” size: not less than 28” or more than 32” total length. If it does not fit into that slot, let it go! The bag limit for harvesting snook is ONE per harvester per day, so one license- one slot snook, no exceptions, and it can only be caught on hook and line. If you catch a snook out of season, just dehook it and gently release it back into the water. These regulations may change and are mandated by FWC. Go here for updated regulations: https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/snook/.
Step 3: Purchase supplies.
If you live near Grand Slam Tackle in Jupiter, you can call them and ask them to set you up with everything you need to fish for snook off of your dock, and they’ll have it ready for pick-up within a few hours. A good versatile starter rod combo that’s light enough to jig with all day and strong enough to use live bait down the road is the Penn Battle II reel with the graphite rod paired in their combo setup. You’ll also need pliers, a measuring device, and tackle depending on whether you want to fish with live bait or artificials.
If you want to fish with live shrimp, ask your local tackle shop to set you up with a portable livewell and a bubbler, along with a few dozen live shrimp. You’ll also need circle hooks, leader, swivels, and small weights in case the current is strong or the snook aren’t feeding on top when you fish. You’ll have to feel it out and adjust as needed.
If you don’t want to deal with live bait, ask Grand Slam for a few jigs and artificials they recommend.
Step 4: Fish in your backyard!
Snook are tricky. Hopefully, you have a light on your dock so they come to feed regularly. If not, buy a light and install it ASAP! The best time to fish for snook is the few hours before incoming tide, and a few hours around high tide, when the waters are flowing fastest. Here are the tides: https://www.usharbors.com/harbor/florida/palm-beach-fl/tides/
To rig with live shrimp, tie leader to your line, then hook to leader, then put the hook through the back of the shrimp so it can still swim. Here’s how to tie a uni knot and a double uni knot to make this assembly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtCKGnZwOb0
If snook don’t seem to be biting on top no matter how much you let it drift in front of them, you can try using a small weight, but you will risk scaring the snook away for a few minutes if they don’t like the sight of it. Give a jig a few shots first. For the small weight setup, put the weight on your line, then tie to swivel, then swivel tied to leader, then leader to hook.
Once you catch a snook, measure it, and if it’s not a slot, release it swiftly and try again! Hopefully this turns your quarantine time into a fun day of fishing!